Playing the blues

Terry Wills on Albion’s past and future opponents.

It was a perfect weekend apart from Crystal Palace notching a win against fellow strugglers Burnley, lifting them above Albion in the table and conversely it left the Baggies needing a point at Everton to ease our own fears.

Mission accomplished via a typical determined Tony Pulis defensive display. It was clear from the outset that he’d set his players a clear message of “If you can’t win the game make you don’t lose it”.

Everton dominated throughout but for all their possession Ben Foster, with the aid of his controlled organised defence, stifled everything thrown at them. The one bit of fortune was a dispute between the Toffees’ players as to who should take a last-minute first half penalty. Thank you Mr Mirallas; your miss left Everton fans fuming and Baggies fans breathing huge sighs of relief.

Outstanding for the Baggies was Claudlo Yacob, who a few days earlier the new boss had claimed was his ‘Jewel in the Crown’. He certainly added much needed bite in midfield, and long may he reign.

On the negative side was the inability, when in possession, to retain the ball and in this situation the major culprit was skipper Chris Brunt. Far to often his distribution left Everton creating problems, a fact clearly recognised by Tony Pulis in his post-match interviews.

So, two Greed League away games and two points – satisfaction before swapping league competition for FA Cup action down the road at St Andrews. Blues under Gary Rowlett have put together an impressive set of results and this, together with home advantage, underlines that it will be a very difficult test for Baggies fans who, like City supporters, would love to see their team enjoy a cup run.

How will Tony Pulis, a boss who takes cup competitions seriously, approach the game? A repeat of the defensive display at Goodison Park or giving carte blanche to win the game? It’s a fascinating prospect, but whatever his choice it will surely be ninety minutes of tension for both sets of fans,

Any cup game is capable of throwing up seemingly impossible results , none more so than in a local derby and I wouldn’t be surprised whatever the result but taking everything into consideration I predict a Hawthorns replay to determine which name goes into the hat for the fourth round draw.